My recent trip to Barcelona was a lesson in revisiting: how differently you can see the same place based on when and with whom you visit it.
I’ll admit to a bit of a passport stamp addiction; especially when it comes to transatlantic flights, I want to see a new place, have a new experience, check somewhere new off the ol’ bucket list. But when Iain suggested using Barcelona to break up two weekends in the U.K. that we would spend with all his family and friends because it would give me the opportunity to share with him one of my special places, it was hard to argue with his thoughtful logic.
And so, I found myself back in Barcelona nine years after living there for four months in college.
I was instantly embarrassed that I had forgotten basically everything, and many things Iain wanted to know (amazing restaurants, trendy cocktail bars), I had no idea of in the first place because we certainly hadn’t discovered them on our meager budgets that we allocated almost solely to chupitos and 50 cent bottles of cava.
We did revisit the must-see attractions and it was incredible to see the progress made on Gaudi’s 100 year work in progress, Sagrada Familia. I was similarly irritated and horrified wandering down Las Ramblas, and clutched my bag as tightly as I had in 2008 while navigating the ever-crowded La Boqueria.
I experienced the same sense of feeling that we really should spend some time on the beach, but there was simply too much else to do. And, we threw our trash on the floor after eating simple, delicious chicken sandwiches washed down with glasses of champagne at a favorite haunt then and now, La Xampaneria.
I even planned to take Iain to Port Olimpico to revisit some of my favorite beach clubs, but we both had head colds we were trying to fight off in advance of what was sure to be a tiring weekend in London. (Update: it was indeed tiring and we drank enough Whispering Angel to make up for not imbibing in Barcelona...and then some.)
And that was probably for the best. The beach clubs will be fondly revisited in memories of 5am nights with one of my best girlfriends, but probably didn’t need to be physically revisited with my boyfriend while we fueled ourselves on Dayquil.
Some places are meant to be revisited but the excitement of this trip came from rediscovering. If we weren’t going to cook cheap pasta in our apartment and head out to the clubs, we would have to discover the new places that would best satisfy this time in life. Here are a few of these places, should you find yourself in Barcelona anytime soon:
Cal Pep (Drink a beer while you wait in line for delicious tapas.)
Agua (Seafood on the beach.)
Tickets (Hottest ticket in town...he...he....plan ahead.)
Mercat de la Boqueria (Touristy but worth a visit! Fresh juices, seafood, and lots and lots of ham.)
Nomad (Good coffee; seemed like an expat hangout.)\
Hotels (None of these is really a budget option, but there are definitely hostels and less expensive hotels in El Born, which is definitely where I would recommend staying! Hotel Arts is on the beach if that’s more the vibe you’re going for.)
Grand Hotel Central (The rooftop!!!)
Hotel Arts (If you’re going for luxury, I’d highly suggest Hotel Arts over the W. Iain and I had lunch at the W and it was, quite frankly, gross. We both noted that it looked like the couches had...seen sexual activity...and the vibe was pretty nouveau riche.)
Rooftop bar at Hotel Central
Shoko (If you’re not suffering from head colds and/or adulthood.)
Chupitos (Literally translates to shots; see above…Do NOT order the Monica Lewinsky for yourself.)